The Cycle and Walking Investment Strategy (CWIS) contradicts the government's Civil Liability Bill
Leading road traffic accident law firm Thompsons Solicitors is calling out the government on its contradictory stance, launching its Cycle and Walking Investment Strategy (CWIS) safety review in the same month as it pushes forward with the Civil Liability Bill.
The Department for Transport’s CWIS safety review, launched in March, seeks evidence from consultees on a range of road safety issues to help support its aim of ‘improving cycling and walking safety whilst promoting active travel’.
At the same time, the government has introduced the Civil Liability Bill to the House of Lords, which will raise the small claims limit for road traffic accidents – including those involving cyclists - to £5,000. Below that value, litigants will not be able to claim for legal costs. They almost certainly won’t be at fault but they’ll have to take the insurers to the person who injured them on their own or face a cut in compensation if they instruct a lawyer to fight the case for them.
"The government maybe pretending otherwise but it has made it clear whose side it is on – the side of the insurance companies, and not ordinary people."
The increase in the small claims limit has already been welcomed by the insurance industry and supported by Tory government ministers referring to fraud (which nobody is suggesting pedestrians or cyclists are) and saying that insurance premiums will be lower for motorists. In reality, it’s an attempt by the government to remove access to justice and help their mates in the insurance industry who have been trying to cut out independent free legal advice for years.
Statistics show that more than 18,000 cyclists were injured on Britain’s roads in 2016, up five per cent on the previous year. A quarter of cycling accidents resulted in leg injuries while 40 per cent suffered head injuries.
Tom Jones, head of policy at Thompsons Solicitors, commented: “The government’s rhetoric on cycling and pedestrian safety doesn’t match its deeds, its pretending to put an arm around vulnerable road users and then kicking them whilst they are down if they get injured through no fault of their own by preventing people from claiming legal costs.
“The government is inviting people to respond to its consultation on cycling safety while actively pursuing a policy that means cyclists will be denied access to free, independent legal advice.
“Cyclists injured on the roads through no fault of their own and seeking compensation will be forced to take on insurance companies on their own or use claims companies to (poorly) represent them.
“The government maybe pretending otherwise but it has made it clear whose side it is on – the side of the insurance companies, and not ordinary people.”